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Label Mix Interview - Youngbloods

Nina Label Mix

A mirth-filled mix of downtempo shmackers.

By editorial

2024/06/20

“Wait, Youngbloods is on Nina now? Say less.”

The above line kicks off a fun, drop-filled mix from bicoastal label Youngbloods. Voice messages from friends and collaborators pepper a delightful hour of music that covers a wide range of downtempo styles and provides a quality representation of the label’s modus operandi over the past decade. It’s a mix that will no doubt come in handy over the summer. Play it while grilling out or riding your bike. We spoke to the label co-owners John and Nick; give it a read and listen to the mix below.

Where are you based?

John: We started out bicoastal in LA and Brooklyn but I recently left LA to chase my rural fantasies in upstate NY. Nick (co-owner of Youngbloods) still pursues our dreams in the city.


Can you describe your label mix?


John: I’m a fan of pause-mixes—I feel like that format enables some creative agency and opportunities to play a wider variety of music. Maybe it’s lazy on my part? Maybe I'm flexing some sort of creative freedom? Maybe both? Over the last ten years, Youngbloods has bloomed from being a downtempo electronic label to one that considers music of many styles. We’ve put out our own brand of rap, jazz, ambient, classical, indie singer/songwriter—I wanted to showcase the overarching sound of the label regardless of genre. You’ll also hear inserts and voice messages from friends throughout the mix. I’m a big voicemail guy. There’s something charming and archaic about them. Much like running a record label. The mix doesn’t take itself too seriously. We're just trying to have fun here. And listen to Youngbloods. And purchase the music released on Youngbloods, preferably using the Nina platform. 


What inspired you to start a label?


John: Nick and I struck up a formative friendship doing college radio and this felt like a natural extension of our bond when we geographically went our separate ways. I lived in LA, Nick lived in NYC, and we wanted to stay connected. Music was the thread and Youngbloods felt something like a divine mission. There wasn’t much thought into why we were doing it—we just had to start a label. It's the best and worst thing to ever happen to us. 

Does your label have a sound or a mission?


John: Generally speaking, we want to support artists we love. That’s always been the root of why we run the label. Over the years, we’ve learned what sort of people we like to work with—artists ideally become friends, not just clients. As far as our sound is concerned, we know it when we hear it. There may have been a point where we were more discerning based on the style or genre of a submission, but Nick and I have been doing this for a while. Our tastes and lives have completely changed from when we were in our 20s. Regardless of what type of music we’re putting out, it all comes from the same, gooey, deep dark place of fandom. 


Nick: We truly aim to not be a transactional label. Our most successful releases tend to be the really collaborative ones. A release is never just the music, there’s so much more to it. When we can establish a foundational relationship with an artist where they trust us to elevate the product, that’s where the magic happens. How that manifests is project by project but we both bring diverse experience that can help in different ways. 


Tell us about your scene(s).


John: A vast network of music nerds across the web.


Nick: We tend to network a lot within our artist communities. We met We Are The Willows through Penelope Antena. We met Nick Schofield through Sontag Shogun. We met Yoh as well as Stu Pender through Krakaur. Turns out if we like the art you make, there’s a strong chance our tastes overlap and we’ll like the music you like too. 


What's your A&R process?


John: Part of the beauty of running a label is that your network of artists tends to grow organically. One project leads to another and creates a like minded chain of music. We love to get connected with musicians through the recommendation of artists we’ve worked with, although a handful of our projects stem from us loving someone’s work and reaching out. Nick and I both currently host and have long standing backgrounds in radio—much of our A&Ring happens when we’re going through music for our radio shows. 


What labels do you look up to?


John: Stones Throw, Friends of Friends, Body High, Lucky Me, Brainfeeder, Planet Mu, NNA Tapes, and Leaving Records were all labels we loved in our formative years. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Grind Select, Moon Glyph, Doom Trip, Bokeh Versions, and Plz Make It Ruins. But I like it all. Running a label is really hard and unforgiving. Everyone’s just doing their best and they’re doing great.


Nick: it’s fascinating how the tapestry of the scene changes (and doesn’t change) over time. Labels tend to have their own personalities that evolve, so sometimes I love them and sometimes less so. Big favorites lately have been Albert’s Favorites, Botanical House, International Anthem, PTP, and Leaving Records.

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